The Wholeness of Stress
Headaches and the Wholeness of Stress
Copyright 2015© Julia Gilroy, all rights reserved world-wide
I have recently suffered from particularly painful headaches. I suspect that they are due to stress as feelings of anxiety appear to trigger the onset of this condition but I have never looked into the situation until now.
Even though it has been reoccuring over a number of years, I have only recently begun to question why after suffering a particularly painful attack and feeling frightened at the intensity of the headache. If only I had done something about them earlier ! For now though, I took ‘the resting position’* and released any tensions I felt throughout my body. Since I am trained in the Alexander Technique I succeeded in dissipating the pain until I could sleep. However the fact that I could treat myself in the short term encouraged my laziness to do nothing but that: just practice releasing tension in order to relieve the headache. It was an excellent coping mechanism but didn’t really deal with the underlying cause. It would not stop the headaches from returning.
In other words, the pain was a symptom of something else. The next step in this investigation was to become more aware of what I was doing or thinking just before the headache began. Nowadays it is called ‘Mindfulness’ but has always been an important principle in the Alexander Technique and LearningMethods work. So the next day I noticed a nagging headache that came and went during the morning. I began to notice a pattern. Whenever I was worrying about the work I had to do, the pain would appear. As the day wore on I perceived a clear connection between when I was anxious and my aching head. It was incredible ! Every time I started to worry, BOOM the headache reared up.
The connection was clear but what could I do about it? Just ordering myself not to worry was unrealistic. I am who I am and the situation was such that it made me go into this state. The actual state of being worried created a whole pattern of co-ordination both physically and cognitively. The constricted breathing, tensely held shoulders and stiff neck were the co-ordination of feeling worried. My whole system was responding, immediately and unconsiously to my perception and thoughts.
A truly enlightening experience of how my thoughts and my way of seeing a certain situation are intertwined with my physical state. However I now had to tackle the next question of where to go from here. Stay tuned for the next post.